20 Feb 2010

Niger curfew lifted after coup

6:17 pm on 20 February 2010

Niger's new military rulers have lifted a curfew and reopened the country's borders, a day after they overthrew the government and detained the president.

Ten people are said to have died when the junta seized power but thousands of supporters of the coup later took to the streets.

A junta spokesman, Colonel Goukoye Abdul Karimou, told the BBC President Mamadou Tandja is "safe and well".

The colonel says most of the cabinet ministers captured with the president have been released and have gone home. Three were still being held at a military barracks in Niamey.

The BBC reports there was no obvious military presence on the streets in the capital, although heavy artillery is deployed around the presidential palace.

Troops stormed the presidential palace during a cabinet meeting on Thursday, seizing Mr Tandja and his ministers before announcing that they were suspending the constitution and dissolving all state institutions.

A senior army officer, Colonel Salou Djibo, was named head of the military government.

AU suspension

The African Union has suspended Niger from the regional organisation and demanded free elections be held.

The AU says it has imposed sanctions on the country and demanded a return to constitutional rule.

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the coup, and appealed for calm and respect for human rights.